Recently, when visiting our friendly tonsorial artist, we asked about his daughter who, at age 20, has an interest in graphic design. (He mentioned that he had visited this site) then said: “She is on a soccer team now, and they wanted her to design the t‑shirts for their team.
I hope her career begins as easily as that!”
I think today, it could.
When I was 20, I was working at PT&T (Pacific Telephone and Telegraph) typing up listings for the telephone book. My pay for 2 weeks: $124 and then moving up to 2 weeks: $133. (Wow !)
(From 1961 to 1963 I was at City College of San Francisco taking advertising art classes.) I worked a few weeks at Imagination. Inc. painting animation cells for a Standard Oil commercial (no records of pay). Then, Sept.’63 to Feb.’64, a clerking job at Wells Fargo Bank, making only $116 per two weeks at their Stop Payment desk. (Boo.)
In March of 1964, an illustrator and a lettering artist (Mike Bull and Chuck Wertman) had decided leave a top art studio to free-lance. I had the good luck of being hired into their space. i was set up with a drawing board and I was in care of the art room and the reception area. For one year i worked for Butte, Herrero & Hyde starting at $135.per two weeks — and I loved it there! ”Yippie!”
While I was there in 1964, this “1965 Shell Chemical Calendar” was created. I was not able to watch Lowell Herrero as he painted. He painted in his cabin in the Sierra Mountains.
The type under the words, “UNSURPASSED PAINTINGS” reads: The paintings in this calendar are by Lowell Herrero * The lettering and type design by Bill Hyde * Graphic design by Bruce Butte * Butte, Herrero & Hyde, San Francisco.
There, I learned what was needed to run an art studio. For their studio, they needed: a receptionist, researcher, a shopper for art supplies, a coffee-brewer and a “go-fer”. I mastered ’paste-ups’, prepared their art samples and at a few times some small art spots were offered for me at my drawing board. I was the one to run to the post office, sending their jobs to New York, Cleveland or Chicago. Sending a finished assignment now, is by computer or delivery services from your door.
All that was needed then, is no longer needed today. Artwork still may be with paints and paper, but a computer offers choices that weren’t even dreamed of.
Working from home is now acceptable (no matter what Elon Musk says) but social interaction, joining advertising clubs, interviewing with art studios or ad agencies and always listening for a person’s art needs… still is necessary to make contacts for work. I received many jobs as my examples and availability became known in San Francisco.
I would have worked for BH&H for years, but I became a free-lance artist when the partnership broke up. Each partner still wanted help and the rate, in 1965, was $5 per hour for a beginning artist and $2.50 for general office work. This change, all happened so fast that my first invoices in May were written by hand. I show my very first billing. By June, I was using an available typewriter. Later I created a sign for the door, Someone had given me this estimate sheet to figure costs. I used it for 40 years!
Very large clients also had small jobs, just right for me. Two Shell Chemical Company reps. were working with Bill Hyde (he would not have accepted simple small jobs). Shell needed these two printed items. They knew what they wanted and did not want any design offers from me. I had learned how to do “mechanicals”, so it was just “good business” to easily follow their directions.
My first artwork for this big corporation was of these garden pests to be printed on a large bag.
When a client was looking for an artist, they often would try to see what could come cheaper, because a beginner could not command a high rate of pay. I would often say that I’d give it a try. That sometimes became a long working relationship…and then there were a few times when I didn’t even get paid. But I did learn a lot.
There are many unknown destinations, when just starting out. I show the variety of clients for a free-lance artist.
And I tell also the transitions that can grow from an initial position of employment. Because I worked for myself, I could accept the wide variety of assignments: stationary and business card design, annual report design, logo designs, packaging, children’s books, out-door signage, how-to instructions, store displays, T‑shirt designs, illustrations, cartoons, lettering, photography, and later, web design,
My first art spots were simple, then i took on bigger challenges. My clients couldn’t have been more varied. I had no past knowledge of the subjects assigned, from auto-dealers’ ads to religious brochures.
Artists who had one drawing style could become known and successful with that one style. Illustrators also often worked for art studios or ad agencies, The subjects of their creative efforts were only those that contracted with their employment. Many art directors moved on to free-lancing with their talents of art, photography and some even opened their own small agency.
One great story, wait — two, no, three:
1 — We know of a top creative director, Hal Riney, who joined BBDO-San Francisco moving from the mail room to head art director and finally creative director in 1968.
Our friend, Sandra Ford Karpman worked at ILM and I met her as she played softball with the ILM team. She told us that she was initially hired as a janitorial person at ILM (George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic). She quickly became “artist”.
From 1992 to the early 2000s her talents grew and then she moved to PIXAR. Sandra now has a huge list of credits with ILM and PIXAR ! in those days the Karpmans were raising three young sons and still, she would ride her bike across the Richmond / San Rafael Bridge to the Pixar’s location. And then, after work she would sometimes pedal south to the SF/ Oakland Bay Bridge, through SF to the Golden Gate Bridge, then north to home in San Rafael. (Go, Girl!)
Sandra Ford Karpman
Visual effects (35 credits)
Toy Story 3 (technical lead: stereoscopic as Sandra Karpman) 2010
Day & Night (Short) (camera polish & stereo as Sandra Karpman) 2009
Up (stereoecopic technical lead as Sandra Karpman) 2010
Mater’s Tall Tales (TV Series) (3‑d 1 episode)
Tokyo Mater (2008) … (3‑d as Sandra Karpman)
Burn‑E (Short) (effects artist as Sandra Karpman) 2007
Ratatouille (optimization artist) / (rendering artist )2006
Mater and the Ghostlight (Video short) (rendering & optimization artist as Sandra Karpman) 2006
Lifted (Short) (effects artist as Sandra Karpman)2006 Cars (effects artist as Sandra Karpman) 2002
Star Wars: Bounty Hunter (Video Game) (digital artist) 2002
Men in Black II (compositor: air chase and post office sequences, ILM as Sandy Karpman) 1999
Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace (digital effects artist: ILM as Sandra Karpman) 1998
Deep Impact (digital effects artist: ILM) 1997
Flubber (visual effects supervisor) 1996/I
Twister (lightning/debris effects supervisor as Sandra F. Karpman) 1995
Congo (computer graphics supervisor: ILM) 1995
Village of the Damned (digital artist: ILM) 1994
Radioland Murders (cg supervisor: ILM) 1994
In the Mouth of Madness (digital artist: ILM uncredited) 1994
The Mask (computer graphics sequence supervisor) 1993
The Meteor Man (wire removal artist) 1993
Fire in the Sky (computer graphics supervisor: alien sequence) 1992
Death Becomes Her (computer graphic artist: ILM) 1991
Hook (CG fire removal supervisor as Sandra R. Ford) 1991
The Rocketeer (computer graphics: ILM as Sandra R. Ford) 1990
Die Hard 2 (computer graphics: ILM as Sandra R. Ford) 1990
Back to the Future Part III (computer graphics as Sandra R. Ford) 1990
The Hunt for Red October (computer graphics: ILM as Sandra R. Ford) 1989
Back to the Future Part II (computer graphics: ILM as Sandy Ford) 1989
The Abyss (film scanning: ILM as Sandy Ford Karpman) 1989
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (digital compositor: ILM as Sandra Ford) 1988
Who Framed Roger Rabbit (animation camera operator as Sandy Ford) 1988
Willow (animation camera operator: ILM as Sandy Ford) 1987
The Witches of Eastwick (roto: ILM as Sandy Ford) 1986
Howard the Duck (production assistant: ILM visual effects unit as Sandra R. Ford)
Animation department (11 credits)
Elemental (post-animation camera lead) 2023
Pixar Popcorn (TV Series short) (post-animation camera artist 3 episodes)
Unparalleled Parking (2021) … (post-animation camera artist as Sandra Karpman)
A Day in the Life of the Dead (2021) … (post-animation camera artist as Sandra Karpman)
Dancing with the Cars (2021) … (post-animation camera artist as Sandra Karpman) 2020
Soul (post animation camera artist as Sandra Karpman) 2019 – 2020
Forky Asks a Question (TV Series short) (post-animation camera artist 10 episodes)
What is Reading? (2020) … (post-animation camera artist)
What is Cheese? (2020) … (post-animation camera artist)
What Is a Pet? (2019) … (post-animation camera artist)
What Is a Leader? (2019) … (post-animation camera artist)
What is a Computer? (2019) … (post-animation camera artist)
What is Love? (2019) … (post-animation camera artist)
What is Time? (2019) … (post-animation camera artist)
What is Art? (2019) … (post-animation camera artist)
What is a Friend? (2019) … (post-animation camera artist)
What is Money? (2019) … (post-animation camera artist)2018
Incredibles 2 (additional layout artist as Sandra Karpman) 2018
Bao (Short) (post-animation camera artist) 2015/I
Inside Out (post-animation camera artist as Sandra Karpman) 2013
Toy Story of Terror (TV Movie) (post-animation camera artist as Sandra Karpman) 2013
Monsters University (post-animation camera artist as Sandra Karpman) 2011
Toy Story Toons: Hawaiian Vacation (Short) (layout as Sandra Karpman) 2011
Mater’s Tall Tales (TV Series) (layout 2 episodes) 2010Heavy Metal Mater (2010) … (layout as Sandra Karpman)
Monster Truck Mater (2010) … (layout as Sandra Karpman)
Camera and Electrical Department (2 Credits)
Riley’s First Date? (Video short) (post-animation camera as Sandra Karpman) 2015
Mater’s Tall Tales (TV Series) (camera 2 episodes) 2010
Heavy Metal Mater (2010) … (camera as Sandra Karpman)
Monster Truck Mater (2010) … (camera as Sandra Karpman)
Special Effects: Titanic and Beyond (1997) … Self
Our thank yous to IMDb.
3 — We know of Stan Dann when he was part of a a three man studio (w/John Lichtenwalner and Edward Diffenderfer): 222 Group at 40 Gold Street. At the same time, Stan was carving custom wood signs and doors. This talent became papular in the 1960s with architects and later, fine art collectors. His work became fine art — what Stan calls, “Wood Reliefs”. You can see, his creations on-line: http://www.standann.com
Stan Dann had a show at the Nut Tree, CA, exhibit on May 19th through September 20, 1977. These images of various suns, from the Nut Tree poster, doubled as Stan’s self-promo.
I did little as self-promo. I needed a card to hand out. Finally I created this full color sheet as a “leave behind” but this was when I was planning to retire so I never used it.
Looking back, we all can remember the paths that we took. Just getting a job at ‘entry level’ where you wanted to be, was the first step. Then our efforts, and even talents that we didn’t even know we had, moved us along.
I am not so sure all would be so different now, for those, just starting out.